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Why Cable Management is Important to Your Business

When you’re running a business, there’s no shortage of things to manage: time, employees, productivity, budgets… but have you ever thought of your data cables? Just about every business depends on cables for essentials like data, phone systems and security concerns. When you own, or operate a business, it’s up to you to keep the premises up to code and safe for employees and customers. Proper cable management is the solution for keeping those cords safe, functional and organized.

Hidden in your Telecommunications or Equipment Room (more often referred to as the Server Room) where no one goes except your IT staff or outsourced company may lay a multitude of problems.

Messy racks make it harder to trace cables and determine what port on the patch panel and/or switch they are connected to. Also, it makes it very difficult to add, remove, or test equipment; let alone adding new cables, system components or workstations.

You can bet that every job that requires someone working on or around your rack takes longer than it would if your rack was neat and orderly. If you’re talking about adding or removing equipment from a rack with installation costs and IT services rates your labor time could easily be double. It makes more sense to invest initially in a well dressed structured cable system.

Proper cable management begins at the initial installation or retrofit and continues through to individual workstations, security hubs, the reception desk and in your board room. Installations might include Category 3 cable for voice, Category 5e cable for data, and possibly coaxial or fiber-optic cable for video applications. As data rates and bandwidth requirements continue to escalate, fiber-to-the-desktop will continue to expand into the end-user environment.

The art of cable-pulling is not new; however, proper planning is often overlooked, at Bluewire we believe a little foresight can save the cost of having to re-pull cable runs that may have been damaged during the initial installation.

Every cable pull is unique, and all the different factors must be weighed at the pre-planning stage. The process can be broken into five basic steps: Identify the environment where the cable pull will be made; identify the cable type and specifications needed; establish the cable route; install the necessary hardware for cable support; pull the cable and labeling it according to industry standards.

Cable specifications also play an important role in setting up for a proper cable pull. The following are a few considerations that should be taken for each cable in a cable run; pulling tension, bend radius, maximum distance, outside diameter of the cable and the conduit-fill ratio.

If pulling tension exceeds the rated specifications, it can alter the electrical characteristics and degrade the performance of the cable. Any cables stretched beyond the specified pulling tension may fail cable-performance tests, and need to be replaced and pulled again.

Bend radius is also a key concern when preparing for the cable pull. Exceeding the recommended specifications can also alter the electrical characteristics of the cable. The minimum bend radius for their cables is based on the outside diameter of the cable jacket. Additionally, cable bundles cannot be installed in sharp 90-degree bends.

Optimize Your Network with Structure Cabling

Not all Ethernet cable is created equally. What’s the difference, and how do you know which you should use? Let’s look at the technical and physical differences in Ethernet cable categories to assist you in deciding which is best for your network.

Ethernet cables are grouped into sequentially numbered categories (“cat”) based on different specifications; sometimes the category is updated with further clarification or testing standards (e.g. 5e, 6A). These categories are how we can easily know what type of cable we need for a specific application. Manufacturers are required to adhere to the standards.

As the category number gets higher, so does the speed and MHz of the wire. This is not a coincidence, because each category brings more stringent testing for eliminating crosstalk (XT) and adding isolation between the wires.

What are the differences between the categories and how can you know when to use unshielded, shielded, stranded, or solid cable?

Cat5e is approved to provide 1000-Megabit (@100Mhz) to a maximum of 100m channel link. This cable is suitable for Gigabit speeds and networks that change frequently. If the network changes frequently or is temporary in nature, Cat5e may be the optimal selection.

Cat6 is approved to provide 1000-Megabit (@250Mhz) to a maximum of 100m channel link or 10Gbps to a limit of 33m channel length. This cable is optimal for extra margin and higher performance. Cat6 cable will support gigabit Ethernet, but will only support 10-Gigabit Ethernet if the total length and loss is low enough. If a project requires a 10-Gigabit Ethernet connection, Cat6A or higher is recommended.

Cat6A is approved to provide 10-Gigabit (@500Mhz) to a maximum of 100m channel link. This cable will support speeds up to 10-Gigabit. If a project requires a single installation solution to support the facility and is intended to stand the test of time, Cat6A will protect the investment and serve as a reliable backbone going into the future.

Cat7 & Cat7A is approved to provide 10-Gigabit (@600/1000Mhz) to a maximum of 100m channel link. This cable will support 10-Gigabit Ethernet with plenty of margin to spare. Cat7 has pair-sharing capability, making it possible to use one cable to power several different devices at the same time utilizing each pair as needed. For the best and most versatile infrastructure Cat7 provides the solution.

Here is a handy chart to help you better understand the differences.

 

Length (meters) 10 Mb/s 100 Mb/s 1 Gb/s 10 Gb/s Power over Ethernet (PoE) MHz
Cat5 100 Yes Yes No No Limited 100
Cat5e 100 Yes Yes Yes No Limited 100
Cat6 100 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 250
Cat6A 100 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 500
Cat7/7A 100 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 600

 

Physical Differences
Wire twisting and isolation the physical cable helps eliminate interference and allows for faster speeds. This reduces the interference and increases the range. Twisted pair became the basis for all Ethernet cables to eliminate interference between internal wires (XT), and external wires (AXT).

There are two main physical differences between Cat5 and Cat6 cables, the number of twists per cm in the wire, and sheath thickness.

Cable twisting length is not standardized, but typically there are 1.5-2 twists per cm in Cat5e and 2+ twists per cm in Cat-6. Within a single cable, each colored pair will also have different twist lengths based on prime numbers so that no two twists ever align. The amount of twists per pair is usually unique for each cable manufacturer.

Many Cat6 cables also include a nylon spline which helps eliminate crosstalk. Although the spline is not required in Cat5/5e cable, some manufactures include it anyway. In Cat6 cable, the spline is not required either as long as the cable tests according to the standard.

While the nylon spline helps reduce crosstalk in the wire, a thicker sheath protects against near end crosstalk (NEXT) and alien crosstalk (AXT) which both occur more often as the frequency (MHz) increases.

 

Shielded (STP) vs. Unshielded (UTP)
Because all Ethernet cables are twisted, manufactures use shielding to further protect the cable from interference. Unshielded twisted pair can easily be used for cables between your computer and the wall, but you will want to use shielded cable for areas with high interference and running cables outdoors or inside walls.

There are different ways to shield an Ethernet cable, but typically it involves putting a shield around each pair of wire in the cable. This protects the pairs from crosstalk internally. Manufactures can further protect cables from alien crosstalk but screening UTP or STP cables.

 

Solid vs. Stranded
Solid and stranded Ethernet cables refer to the actual copper conductor in the pairs. Solid cable uses a single piece of copper for the electrical conductor while stranded uses a series of copper cables twisted together. There are many different applications for each type of conductor, but there are two main applications for each type you should know about:

  • Stranded cable is more flexible and should be used at your desk or anywhere you may be moving the cable around often.
  • Solid cable is not as flexible but it is also more durable which makes it ideal for permanent installations as well as outdoor and in walls.

If you would like further information on Structure Cabling or would like to obtain a quote for enhancing your Network please do not hesitate to call us at 604-617-4840 or send us an email contact@bluewiremediasolutions.com we will be glad to help.

Cyber Security for Small Business

In the past cyber attacks on small business networks was largely a crime of opportunity. Today’s cyber criminal however is highly specialized and may even be part of a cyber criminal team or a member of organized crime. These criminals have the specialized knowledge, funds available and the persistence to break through many protected networks.

Often with the use of Malware criminals can infect computer systems with malicious code that allows them to take control of computer systems or steal information. Malware comes in many forms including rootkits, bootkits, adware, backdoors, spyware, logic bombs, trojan horses, viruses and worms to name just a few. These are sophisticated threats and should be taken seriously.

Often targeting specific industries or companies these criminals may be seeking customer information, employee records, intellectual property or proprietary specific information. In all cases the data your company possesses is among its most valuable assets. If you become a victim of a cyber attack it goes well beyond being a public relations nightmare. The potential loss of your customer base, downtime of your network, overtime wages to your IT department, idling of your employees, revenue shortfalls and damage or loss of your data all adds up to a very costly experience.

Although cyber criminals are always developing new ways to commit fraud and steal identities, you can be proactive to help safeguard your network. Ensure that your IT department has installed robust security software, conduct regular scheduled backups of your data and train employees to following basic Internet safety rules such as using caution when opening email attachments or being careful when file sharing.

In cyber security the old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure should be used as a guidepost to protecting your network.
At Bluewire Media solutions we care about you and your network. We are specialists in high quality cabling systems that can meet today’s high demand network systems. We believe in building innovative solutions to meet our client’s needs for today and in the future. Give us a call at 604-617-4840 or send us an email we will be glad to answer your questions or discuss how we can assist you on your next project.

The Importance of Structured Cabling

The importance of structured cabling is something that is often overlooked while companies are starting up, renovating or expanding. Understandably, the world of technology is ever-changing, making it easy to forget the fact that good cabling is the foundation in which businesses function and successfully deliver information.

Much like a nervous system, network wiring is unseen, but is the most vital and only means of communication between the many different aspects of your business. Be it a wireless network, VoIP phones, or a full-scale data center, great structured cabling keeps the day to day working order of today’s bandwidth intensive systems running effortlessly. This efficiency maximizes revenue and growth while minimizing future costs.

The installation of an advanced Ethernet network cable or fiber optic system, is what connects your Corporation with your clients. The importance of quality during these installations are critical. Careless installations create downtime and stress, not only impacting revenue but the business’ reputation. Important data, urgent messages, and potential clients could all be lost at any moment with a faulty network.

Currently, Category 5e (Cat5e), Category 6 (Cat6 and Cat6A), Single-mode optical fiber and Multi-mode optical fiber are the industry standards in wiring.

Leading manufacturers such as Panduit, TE Connectivity (AMP Netconnect), Beldon and Seimon provide high-performance network wire as well as a wide array of products that are TIA and ISO compliant including patch panels and jacks. Being TIA and ISO compliant means their products all adhere to the industry standards created by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

When selecting a cabling contractor to install these data infrastructures, the utmost care needs to be utilized in researching and confirming the skills, training and integrity of the contractor. Certified and experienced technicians who follow TIA and ISO industry compliant standards are required for any project no matter the size or scale.

A successful installation of an intelligent network is the most basic investment as it will serve as the backbone on which all other network equipment such as voice and data, access control, surveillance cameras, audio-visual equipment, and security equipment will rely upon. Creating and installing a system to meet today’s needs while protecting the business’ future, will reduce costly challenges ahead.

Bluewire Media Solutions specialize in high-performance cabling systems that can meet and exceed today’s needs for active and engaged network systems. We believe in building innovative solutions to meet our client’s needs for today with room to grow for the future.

Give us a call at 604-617-4840 or send us an email. We are happy to answer your questions and discuss your needs. Let us help your business grow.

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Getting the Most out of your CCTV System

When quoting on a security camera system, contractors may up-sell on the quantity or image quality of cameras than what is actually needed. Scare tactics like innovating on latest features and “what if” security scenarios are all used to rationalize installation pricing exceeding local phone numbers. Well what if the only thing a surveillance system exceeded was your performance expectations? That’s possible with the careful design and planning.

If the main purpose of a camera system is to deter criminal activities, then a highly visible camera system is sufficient. A highly visible camera system places cameras in areas where they are most likely to be seen, such as by entrance and exit doors, gates, middle of a room, hallway, corner of a building, etc. Assuming that prevention is strictly the main criteria, these cameras would not need to capture a level of detail that could not identify a person in the court of law, but would allow witnesses to recognize and point out criminals should they make it to court. This alone may be enough for most businesses security needs.

Where a higher level of risk is involved (where risk is the product chance a certain amount of loss may happen), a greater detail of camera footage is required. As a standard, footage detail is measured by pixel density, which can be expressed as pixels per foot (ppf) or meters (ppm). To give you an idea of the scale of detail, most facial recognition software requires at least 100 ppf, and license plate software requires 40 ppf. To find the pixel density of a given field of view, simply divide the cameras horizontal resolution (in pixels) with the field of view (in feet). This relationship means that the pixel density of a reference object drops as it moves further away from the camera. So, to cover a large area with great detail requires either a camera with a very high resolution, or a narrow field of view. Either way, it will cost more to cover a larger area in greater detail. In some cases, this is exactly what is required (casinos, jewelry stores) and has to be accepted as the cost of doing business.

An alternative to increasing pixel density over a large area is to increase it only when its needed. For example, rather than adding four high detail cameras in a room to be able to identify and capture criminal activities, a single high-detail camera can be aimed at the door which everyone must enter, and another low-detail camera aimed for a general overview of the room. By using two different types of cameras, an individual can be identified in one camera, and recognized in another, providing sufficient evidence should prosecution be sought.

These are just a few factors Bluewire Media Solutions considers when working with you to design a camera system. Please contact us to find out how we can get the most out of your next CCTV system!

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Featured Project: FYidoctors

Bluewire Media Solutions is pleased to announce, the completion of the FYidoctors – Eyence Optical Laboratories structured cabling system, at their new location on Annacis Island in Delta.

Bluewire’s owner John Armstrong stated that “we were very pleased that we could provide the level of service and the quality of workmanship that has become our trademark. It is our attention detail and our ability to meet our client’s needs that keeps both us and our clients happy.”

During this project Bluewire was featured in FYidoctors company newsletter:

“The crew working at Delta are taking great pride in their work. The photo on the left below illustrates the two guys (John on the left and Heath on the right) from Bluewire who have been working tirelessly connecting 940 data drops (wow!) in our main server room. The photo on the right shows our mechanical / electrical engineering lead Moortaza proudly pointing toward the super tidy routed cables in the server room. This is work behinds the scenes that most would never see. Without it though we would not be able to operate.”
 
fyi newsletter

FYidoctors a national company and is a widely respected leader among numerous provincial and national optometric associations and medical institutions. They are Canada’s largest eyewear provider. With the opening of their new corporate location and the network solutions installed by Bluewire Media Solutions, FYidoctors has positioned itself to move confidently into the future and provide continued excellence to Canadian consumers. Visit them at www.fyidoctors.com

 

Contact Bluewire for a quote for your next project.

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802.11ac increases wifi bandwidth and reception

Latest wifi standard raises the bars!

The latest wireless networking standard to gain widespread adoption with WAP manufacturers is 802.11ac. This standard was in development for 2 years before it was released exactly a year ago in January 2014. Today, most new wireless network access points, adapters, and devices are manufactured to meet or exceed the 802.11ac standard (and even 802.11ad).The wireless standard adds to the concepts described in 802.11n but adds some impressive new features. The two we are excited about are:

Faster, more bandwidth

802.11n 802.11ac
Channel Bandwidth 40 mhz 80 mhz (optional 160 mhz)
Download Speed 0.45 gbps 1.5 gbps (optional 3.5 gbps)

 

Find out more on how 802.11ac stacks up against 802.11n here.

Better reception

The AP can now stream to multiple devices using multiple antennas, decreasing signal interference. In addition, the multiple antennas enables the router the ability to apply beam forming technology. Beam forming uses at least 2 antennas to create a signal hot-spot where two signal waves overlap. Unlike some conventional access points which rely on omni-directional antennas, the multiple antennas required in the new 802.11ac standard allows the access point the ability to move signal hot-spots to receiving devices in order to increase reception quality.

See how beam forming technology works below:

 

Does your current network infrastructure keep up with these standards? Contact us to find out!

 

 

 

Featured Project: FCV Technologies

Bluewire Media Solutions is please to announce another successful installation of multiple technology systems for FCV Technologies.

“This project allowed us to show off,” says Bluewire’s owner John Armstrong “we pride ourselves on excellent quality and great customer service. The entire team really came together and knocked this one out of the park. Our client is extremely happy.” John led the Bluewire team and supplied FCV Technologies latest expansion with structured cabling, fiber optic, audio/visual and video surveillance systems.

Corporate head-office for FCV is located Downtown Vancouver and they recently expanded to take over another floor. Structured cabling was required throughout the office as well as a fiber optic backbone to their existing communications room on another floor. They also needed audio/video in every boardroom which included projectors and televisions as well as an ambient sound system through out the main office floor. CCTV video surveillance was necessary and had to integrate with their existing system. Bluewire Media Solutions is pleased to say all work was completed on-time, on budget and exceeded the clients expectations.

FCV Technologies is an award-winning interactive, digital advertising agency based Downtown Vancouver and expanding to multiple locations across Canada. Their expertise in creative, digital strategy, mobile application development, research, social marketing and user-centered design delivers results for some of the world’s leading brands. Visit them at www.fcv.ca/

Invite only the Best Contractors

Not All Contractors Are Created Equal

If it isn’t part of your daily work routine, choosing the right contractors to negotiate with can be a stressful process. In Canadian contract law, the concept on contract A means that all the contractors you invite to bid must quote on fair and equal terms. Unfortunately, not all contractors quote on fair and equal terms back. Without properly identifying your scope, budget, and schedule, your lowest bidding contractor may be far from the best one for the job. Here are a few things to consider before bidding out your next project.

Your Scope

Have you identified exactly what your scope of work is?

All installation contractor quotes includes cost for the materials and labour required to complete your project. As such, the quote should detail both the types of material supplied and the scope of work for labour. Keep in mind that different types of services will yield different levels of detail. For example, a bill of materials may not be as helpful on a structured cabling job (where it’s helpful to know the quantity of cables to be installed) than an audio-visual project with several types of expensive components such as televisions, HDMI cables, and keyboard-video-mouse devices. Keep these metrics as concise as possible to make comparing quotes faster and easier.

Another important detail is the amount of time the contractor has spent determining your requirements. Regardless of the contractor’s size or experience, if they have placed an offer without fully understanding your projects needs, they have gambled on intuition. These types of offers come surprisingly quickly, and is loaded with assumptions and vague scope of work statements. The fallacy here is that if a contractor is competent enough, they shouldn’t have to spend much time assembling a quote. Unfortunately, there are so many variables involved in with projects like structured cabling that assumptions like these could result in an added cost, cut corners, missed deadline, or a discount that you should know about. If a contractor is rushing your quotes, they may have missed some important details which disqualifies them from bidding your project.

Their Price

Does the price look really, really good? If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Find out what your project cost should be based on metrics such as cost per cat5e cable, cost per outdoor security camera, etc. This will give you a ball-park figure on a price you should be looking for. If the contractor is missing something, or worse, is absolutely hurting for work, they will be on the low end of this spectrum. Every contractor needs to make money to stay in business, so if their price doesn’t look good for them, the finished result won’t look good for you.

Always remember to set prices for Moves, Adds, and Changes (MACs). Some examples of pricing on MACs are: “add $250 to project price to supply and install additional network device” or “supply and install trunk line cable at $10 per foot”. These prices constitute as variable costs to your project, so since they don’t include much of the projects added fixed costs, the MAC prices should be lower than your projects unit costs. For example, the per cable cost on a structured cabling project could be $300 than the MAC price of $200, where the $100 difference includes set-up time and most of the communication room hardware. Should the pricing work out in your favour, it would be helpful to issue the MAC pricing on a separate contract to allow you the freedom work with a separate contractor without being in violation of contract A terms. Being aware of this, your primary contractor will have to give you the best pricing possible for MACs if they’d like to have that avenue open to them.

The schedule

Above all else, you need to make sure your contractor’s have the manpower and financial capacity to be able to carry out the installation scope, on time, and on budget. Start by clearly identifying the working hours, scheduled start and finish dates, and any specific financial expectations you may have (eg, deposit or holdback requirements) up front to limit confusion later on. Then, find out which contractors have the capacity to undertake a project based on that scale. If price is major factor in your selection, match the size of the contractor with the size of the project. In negotiations, one of the things larger contractors will say to justify their higher prices is the amount of capacity they have. In reality, your project has its own unique needs, so fit the hand to the glove.

Selecting the right contractor for the job is not easy, but it is certainly easier than dealing with the wrong one. By supplementing your procurement process with the points made in this article, you will qualify only contractors like Bluewire Media Solutions to work on your project. Please visit our portfolio section to see examples of a high quality installation, or contact us for references or testimonials.

Featured Project: CSA Transportation

Bluewire Media Solutions is pleased to announce the successful installation of multiple technology systems at a brand-new warehouse facility for CSA Transportation.

“This particular project was unique for us in that it required the installation of multiple systems within a short time frame,” says Bluewire’s owner John Armstrong “but with careful planning and the right manpower, we were able to complete it on time and on budget”. John led the Bluewire team to equip the brand new 35,000 square foot facility with structured cabling, alarm, access control, and a video surveillance system to support its high-volume warehouse distribution facility.

Our organization was nearing completion of a new warehouse in Surrey which still required structured cabling, alarm, access control and video surveillance systems. We quoted with many contractors and… Bluewire absolutely delivers what they promise. The project was completed on time and on budget. Whenever we had to add, change or modify the project, we were accommodated every step of the way.

 

Many thanks to John and the rest of the Bluewire team. It was a pleasure working with you and I would highly recommend your company to anyone in need of your services.

 

– Baltazar Palha, Systems Administrator, CSA Transportation

CSA Transportation is a third-party logistics services company with ten distribution facilities located all across North America. Their 200 transportation professionals are able to provide cross-border, truckload, less than truckload, and dry freight van services for your companies needs. Visit them at www.csatransportation.com/

 

See below for more projects by Bluewire, or contact us for your next project.

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